Extra funding for residential drugs rehabilitation centres has been included in a package of measures announced by the Scottish Government.
Drugs policy minister Angela Constance set out how the final £14.4 million share of the £50 million set aside to tackle Scotland’s drugs problem this year would be spent.
It will include additional funds for local alcohol and drug partnerships, who work to try to help those struggling with addiction.
And Ms Constance made clear she was “specifying that £5 million of that must be used to increase the use of residential rehabilitation and associated aftercare”.
The Scottish Government has already pledged to invest £100 million in residential rehabilitation over the next five years, starting with £13 million in this year.
Work is currently under way to “assess the demand for placements, where these will be provided and what sort of specialist facilities will be needed”, the minister said, adding she was concerned about the lack of specific centres to help women with children.
There will be £4 million spent on the implementation of new treatment standards – including a commitment to drug users to begin to receive support the day that they ask for help
Ms Constance said this would be “in place in many areas by autumn and fully in place by April next year”.
She also pledged £4 million of funding this year to make buprenorphine, an alternative to methadone, more widely available.
Unlike methadone, which has to be given daily, buprenorphine can be given by weekly injection.
A further £400,000 will be spent on exploring opportunities for heroin assisted treatment, with Ms Constance saying the Scottish Government is currently “working with health boards to identify areas where these services could be introduced”.
And she stressed she was “fully committed” to establishing drug consumption facilities, saying: “The evidence shows quite simply that these help reduce drug deaths.”
Here Ms Constance said she was continuing to lobby the UK Government, which has power over drugs laws, to either “allow these lifesaving facilities or to devolve the powers to this Parliament”.
But she also said work was being done in Scotland “to leave no stone unturned to overcome existing legal barriers” as ministers push for safer drugs consumption rooms to be established.
Speaking about the £50 million of funding this year to help those struggling with drug addition, Ms Constance said the money would “be spent on improving and saving lives”.
She added: “It is vital that those working on the front line have the necessary resources to meet the needs of drug users who seek help, and their families.”
The minister continued: “Over the next five years we will spend £250 million on addressing this crisis, £100 million of which will go on improving the provision of residential rehabilitation and I will update Parliament on progress in this area after the summer recess.
“I am determined that every penny of this additional funding will make a difference to all those affected by drug use in Scotland.”